David Cox excited about Pitt opportunity

University of Pittsburgh Head Basketball Coach Jamie Dixon recently hired David Cox as the Panthers new Directory of Basketball Operations. The PantherDigest.com recently spoke with him about his new position.

"I'm extremely excited to join the University of Pittsburgh basketball staff," stated David Cox.

Cox, a resident of Washington D.C., served as assistant principal at St. John's Preparatory High School. He also served as head coach for the touted D.C. Assault AAU program. Six of his seven years with the D.C. Assault were spent coaching the 16-and-under team. His final year was spent coaching the 17-and-under "Blue" team.

‘"I always had a desire to be a college basketball coach," said Cox. "I was the assistant principal at St. John's Preparatory High School in Washington D.C. It took a leap of faith, but I decided to join the staff at Morgan State under Head Coach Todd Bozeman."

Cox was on the cusp of signing a contract with Morgan State when he discovered the University of Pittsburgh had an opening for its Director of Basketball Operations. He decided not to sign a contract with the Bears until he pursued the opportunity with the Panthers.

"I made the initial contact. I called Orlando Antigua and he informed me that he moving up to assistant coach," he said. "I heard that Coach (Joe) Lombardi and Slice (Barry Rohrssen) had left the program and accepted head coaching positions as well."

"Coach (Jamie) Dixon held off interviewing for my position until they locked up Coach (Mike) Rice. Once he was permanently added, I was able to begin a dialogue with Coach Dixon and things progressed from that point."

Cox has two primarily responsibilities. He will act a liaison between the coaching staff and athletic department as well as oversee the general operation of the basketball teem. He is prohibited from recruiting on recruiting on the road but he can recruit within a 30-mile radius of the Pitt campus.

Despite his recruiting restrictions, Cox believes he can make an impact through the myriad of connections he has made in the Washington D.C. area. "There is a great deal of talent in the Washington D.C. area and I hope to bring some of that to Pittsburgh," stated Cox. "I coaches there for 10 years and there isn't a gym I can't go into. I know every inch of the city."

The Panthers have already secured a commitment from 6-foot-6 inch Darnell Dodson from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, MD. Dodson played for Cox on the D.C. Assault. Pitt remains heavily involved with several other blue-chip players that have connections to Cox including power forward Julian Vaughn (6-foot-10 inches, 240 pounds) from South Lakes High School in Weston, VA, center Anthony McClain (7-foot, 225 pounds) from National Christian Academy in Forth Washington, MD and point guard Chris Wright (6-foot-1 inches, 190 pounds) from St. Johns College High School in Washington D.C.

"I believe it's key to have individuals with connections and experience with AAU program," expounded Cox. "AAU coaches are exposed to the best players in the country. The experience also teaches you how to connect and develop relationships with players. Building relationships is a key part of recruiting."

"As an AAU coach you spend much more time with kids than your ordinary high school coach. The more time you spend with them, picking them up, traveling with them, the closer to you get with them."

Cox was a former standout point guard for William & Mary. He graduated in 1995 with a sociology degree and a Masters in Education in 1996.

Cox' hiring completes Coach Dixon's staff. He joins assistants Orlando Antigua, Matt Rice and Pat Sandle. The Panthers now have one of the youngest and most aggressive coaching staffs in the Big East.

A self proclaimed "Big East fanatic", Cox anticipates the Panthers upcoming season.

"I believe this team has the depth and talent to do great things this season. I'm happy to be joining the Pittsburgh program at this time."

When asked to further pontificate on his first impressions of the Pitt basketball players, he quickly stated, "I have been pleasantly surprised. They are not only talented, but they are nice kids that happen to be ego-less."

"I have dealt with blue-chip players for a long time and usually they have rather large egos. Their always worried about playing time and scoring," he said. "You can see why this team won 25 games. They have no ego and posses a team first mentality."

"It looks like Coach Dixon will have strong 8 to 9 man rotation that could take the Pittsburgh program to the next level. I'm simply glad I'll be part of it."

Harry G. Psaros can be contacted at harrypsaros@msn.com.

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